- Greece, Cyprus, and Israel have signed an agreement to construct a 1,900-kilometer undersea pipeline to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe and potentially help the continent reduce its dependency on Russia for energy supplies.
- The deal comes as Russia prepares to start pumping gas this year through two new pipelines to Europe — TurkStream and Nord Stream 2. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to launch TurkStream on January 8.
The three MedStream governments will next put the project out for bids from private investors for financing. The countries hope to reach a final investment decision by 2022 and aim to have the pipeline completed by 2025. European governments and Israel agreed last year to proceed with the project, valued at up to $7 billion.
The pipeline is expected initially to carry 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Israeli and Cypriot waters to the Greek island of Crete. It would then move on to the Greek mainland and into Europe’s gas network through Italy.
Turkey has opposed the EastMed pipeline, saying it would not allow these types of projects without its participation or approval in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara also accused the three countries of attempting to encircle Turkey. Greece and Cyprus have a long history of bitterness with Turkey, and Israel has also had difficulties with Ankara.
The United States and the European Union support the project, with Washington often stressing the need for Europe to become less dependent on Russia for natural gas supplies.